Why I Don’t Like Leaving The House

The other day we were watching Strictly Come Dancing and one of the couples were dancing to the song “The Lambeth Walk” which, personally, is a song I’ve never really heard of. But as they danced my parents reminisced about their experiences in and around the Lambeth area. My mum said “That’s where I got my pearl ring. The one I bought with my first week’s wages. It was stolen in the burglary.”

The burglary she is referring to happened in March 2012 and I still hold myself responsible for it.

At the time I was supposed to be in Canada doing volunteer work but had come home early due to some difficulties with mental health and living away from home for a prolonged period of time. On the day it happened I was at home on my own – all three of my brothers had moved out and my parents had gone down to Bournemouth to visit my grandparents – so it was just me at home.

I got a text in the early evening, around four o’clock, from a friend asking if I wanted to go over and play video games and hang out with him and another friend. I agreed because hanging out with them made me feel normal. I know I don’t need to justify why I went but hanging out with them really made me feel like a normal person, I could be myself and wasn’t putting up barriers or walls for anybody. So yeah, I went.

The night went great and I was around there for a good couple of hours before we had to leave because they had work the next day. So I took my friend home and then went home myself.

Nothing seemed strange upon first entry. I unlocked the door, let the dog out to do his business, and then came back to go upstairs. I stopped in the living room when I saw a folded up note on the floor. I unfolded it and it was Canadian money. Money left over from my trip that I hadn’t got changed back yet. Now I don’t lose things, I don’t misplace things and I often remember exactly where my things are, so to find this on the living room floor was a little surprise.

Thinking the worst I ran upstairs and threw open my door. There was a large empty space on my desk where my laptop had been – the wires were still there, just not connected to anything anymore. My bed was covered with the drawers from my chest of drawers and any tin and/or container I had was opened and emptied onto the bed, obviously looking for anything valuable.

I ran back downstairs, let the dog in and noticed the back door didn’t lock. After checking it (and having the neighbour around to check too) we saw somebody had actually got into the door itself and dismantled the locking mechanism (and done away with it completely). I phoned my brothers and they came to stay with me for the night and phoned the police for me.

Anyway, in the next few weeks/months we had to make a report of what was stolen. I found out over this next few weeks that my mum had all of her jewellery stolen. She didn’t mind some of it because, as she said, it was “costume jewellery” which wasn’t all that valuable. But in amongst the jewellery was an heirloom – my great grandmother’s wedding ring – and the pearl ring that my mother had bought with her first week’s pay in her very first job.

Now I have felt guilty about this ever since it happened. If you look at two basic facts you can see why.

  • If I hadn’t come home from Canada early then my car would have still been on the drive that night and it would have looked like somebody was at home.
  • If I hadn’t left the house to go to my friend’s house then I would have been at home to prevent anything being stolen.

This, for anybody who is wondering, this is why I don’t leave the house very much. If I leave the house then there’s a chance it will happen again. The house gets broken into, people lose valuable things and I feel personally responsible. I’m still carrying around the weight of having lost family heirlooms and pieces of sentimental value, I couldn’t cope with coming home to that scene again. Every time I leave the house I have the fear of coming home to a crime scene again.

I turned down the counselling they suggested at the time. I thought I was strong enough to understand it wasn’t my fault. Somebody breaking into your house isn’t your fault. But I should have taken it because I still, almost six years later, blame myself for what happened and feel responsible for everything that was taken in the burglary.

I thought I’d be most moved by losing my laptop but it doesn’t phase me at all. I don’t care that they stole that. What I care about, and what I feel bad about every time it’s mentioned, is that things of personal value were stolen. Things that weren’t mine. They meant a lot to my mother and I feel like I caused her that pain when the house was broken into because I feel responsible for not preventing it from happening.

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Three Strikes (And You’re Out)

So there’s usually a rule in most sports and most competitive activities (I’m not an expert, I don’t often play sports) where you have three strikes and then you’re out. Well, lying in bed and not being able to sleep, I realised I’d hit my third strike and that perhaps it was time to hang up my boots and leave the game. I’m tired of swinging and missing.

What I’m referring to is my heart. Each swing I take represents a time I tried to give my heart to somebody, I actually admitted to them how I felt, and the misses are all the times it was ignored or broken.

The first time I ever did anything romantic was when I was sixteen/seventeen. I was young and naïve, still under the assumption that I liked girls. So there was this girl. I thought she was amazing. She wasn’t your typical girly girl but she wasn’t butch and manly either, she was sort of approachable and real and I really liked that. So, being young and naïve, I asked my friend what I should do. She suggested I come clean about my feelings (which I would have suggested to anybody who asked me). Well, I wrote a letter in the most confessional and romantic way that I knew how. Let’s be real here, I understand nobody is ever going to swoon at the way I look, so I like to translate that by being rather eloquent and romantic with my language when need be. The plan was to have my friend give the letter to her whilst I was on holiday, that way she would have time to think about things and not feel pressured into anything. When I got back the only person who didn’t talk about the letter was this girl. Apparently everybody else had seen it too, which was devastating in itself, but then she just pretended it didn’t exist.

I should mention that I understand now that no romantic prospect would have been beneficial from this relationship (given that I’m not that way inclined to females) but the whole “pretending somebody hasn’t just confessed their feelings for you” actually hurts.

The second time was when I turned twenty-one. This one’s a little bit more difficult to go into because it’s still really sore to talk about because of how momentous it was. But anyway, I was chatting to this guy online for a while and he was really interested in me. He seemed to like me and I liked him too, he was the first guy around my age that had ever shown an interest in me, everybody else was in their 50s and it just wasn’t gonna happen. But yeah, so I’d been talking to him for a long time and he seemed to want something serious. He knew all the words to lead you on to get what he wanted and then, when he got what he wanted, he just stopped talking to me. It would have been random if it hadn’t been the day after we met that he went radio silent. It was, to say the least, painful.

Some honourable mentions before I get to the final third strike.

  • The girl I liked when I was, like, ten. Bought loads of sweets for, she accepted my gift and used and abused my generosity to get free things.
  • The guy I liked at University who found out I liked him and just proceeded to not socialise with me as much. Just distanced himself from me.
  • The other guy I liked at University who told me I’d see him at the future society events and then never showed up. Added me on Facebook and then deleted me shortly after.

Strike number three is currently quite painful. It’s still very raw and open because it literally happened this month. So there’s this guy I quite like, or at least I don’t know him very well and would love to get to know him better. We’ve chatted a bit online but nothing serious. Well, anyway, he puts out a tweet along the lines of “if you could be anything you wish, what would it be?” And my response was “What I wish I could be is the name of a Jessica Simpson single released on October 13, 2003 and written by Billy Mann, Andy Marvel and Jessica Simpson”. I thought that was rather romantic. It’s cryptic and requires a little bit of an investigation but the end result is quite nice. Let me translate for you (and save you the time and effort of researching it). The single by Jessica Simpson is called “With You” and so my cryptic message translates as “What I wish I could be is With You”. Romantic, right? Well it’s going the way of all my other romantic gestures in that he’s probably pretending he didn’t see it and hoping nobody says anything. I’m far too emotionally cowardly to outright say “you’re cute, wanna go on a date?” and I still believe in romantic language and poetry and all that jazz so for me, the way I do things, is romantic and sweet.

The sad thing is that it’s getting harder and harder not to take it personally. I’m almost one-hundred-percent sure that if Chris Hemsworth or Harry Styles said those words to somebody then they would swoon their hearts out. I’m beginning to realise that my words can be as romantic as they like but sadly my appearance isn’t what people are looking for.

So maybe this game of love is another game I’m destined to not be any good at. I’m destined to be picked last again, like at school, and nobody really wants me on their team. So, perhaps it is time for me to hang up my boots because I’m getting pretty tired of sitting on the bench.

My Emotional Hangover

It was my first social outing in almost a year. I’m not counting work, gym visits or doctor/dentist appointment. Other than those things I haven’t actually socialised with anybody since I did a pub quiz on November 28th 2016 (I know this because I wrote about it in If I’m Not ____ Then Who Am I?). Now I remember why.

You know when you drink a load of alcohol and you have so much fun at the time but then the next morning you’ve got this pounding headache, a sense of regret and a deep hole of misery in your stomach? Yeah, that’s what I got right now but I haven’t had anything to drink.

Basically I’m led to believe my system doesn’t enjoy an overload of emotions. I adore Karaoke, like seriously love it, and so when work invited me to a leaving-do that involved Karaoke then how was I going to turn it down? I loved every blinking second of it. From the moment the Karaoke started to the moment I got into my car I had a smile on my face.

Then I got into my car and the smile faded. My head spun all the way home and I just wanted to pull my car over and cry. I had to select my music very carefully because I was at the very brink of breaking down and any song (even Rachel Bloom’s The Buzzing From The Bathroom) was at risk of seeing me in floods of tears.

I know what does it too. It’s the emptiness. It’s the feeling of going from a room full of people who actually want to see you to sitting in a car on your own driving home where you’ll get a microwave meal and go to sleep by yourself in a double bed. (The double bed is important because it makes you feel more lonely than before, so I tend to avoid sleeping when I come home). But this isn’t helped by the constant loneliness I feel whenever I see somebody I’m attracted to. There were guys I saw tonight that just sent my heart into a tailspin because they’re straight and it’ll never happen between us.

This isn’t even limited to social events. My mood often skyrockets when a cute guy comes into work (there’s one, his name is Charlie and he sends my heart twisting) but then when they leave my mood takes the slippery slid all the way down to rock bottom where it looks around and notices how forever alone it will be.

And that’s a big crux of my personality and paranoia. I feel I will be forever alone. I’m twenty-eight years old and I’ve never had a boyfriend (I had a girlfriend but that was for a week when I was nine and I’m not hugely keen on having another). This might seem very shallow and self-centred but it just means I’ve never had anybody who wants to spend their free time with me. I’ve never had anybody who feels better just by me being around. I’ve never felt anybody sleeping next to me and felt safe. It’s little things that add up to a huge factor of misery in my life.

But I don’t know why either. People say stop looking for it and I do. I go out with nothing else in mind but to enjoy myself and then a cute guy comes alone and BAM! my emotions do the same gymnastic routine they practice every time I leave the house.

This loneliness has actually crippled me to the point where I don’t think I will ever be in a relationship. I just don’t know how one begins naturally. Short of the playground “I like this boy but don’t tell him” whilst secretly hoping she tells him method, I don’t know how relationships begin. I can’t tell a guy he’s good looking. In my head these are the scenarios that go through my head when I tell a guy he’s good looking;

  • “Thanks?” With an awkward smile from them and then they leave ASAP.
  • “Not interested.” Followed by being ignored.
  • “Yeah, too good for you.” Which is fairly obvious in my head.
  • They’re straight which leads to anything from violence to crushing disappointment.

I just don’t know how to handle it. What do you do? Like this guy Charlie. I know he’s gay and he’s hella cute but I can’t talk to him. My brain feels like it disappears when he’s around. I can’t even do my job properly and have to try deep breathing exercises just to get my brain back to function. But I’m crippled by that playground fear of (mainly) schoolgirls who rush around going “she likes you” and then when you ask them out it’s all been a lie and they giggle at your humiliation. That’s sort of what I feel will happen if I like a guy.

Let’s not get started on the straight guys I crush on. I can’t help crushing on straight guys (not all straight guys, let’s clear that up). It’s not that they’re straight that makes me crush on them but the ones I do find myself enamoured with is never going to happen. In my logical and rational head I know that but my heart still tells my brain of a future of when we’re a loving and happy couple.

I gave up alcohol because I didn’t like what it was doing to me. I can’t give up attractive guys because they are all around. People are attractive. Even if you’re in a relationship you can admit that a guy or a girl is attractive. Some people just are. And they are my alcohol. They send my emotions into a whirlwind that I don’t know how to stop. The fallout from the storm can take an age to get over and ultimately it just cripples my self-confidence even more.

And so a life of singledom, loneliness and seeing other couples happy just makes you wonder if life is even worth living sometimes. If you’re going to be alone forever then why prolong the misery?

All Stars: Season 3

Today we’re doing something different. We’re taking a break from Mental Health to look at one of my favourite programmes; RuPaul’s Drag Race. The All Stars Season 3 cast was revealed last night and here’s my rundown on the queens selected.

1 – Aja

Despite being from Season 9, Aja is actually a little bit of a blur in my mind. She was good but she wasn’t exactly memorable. Her looks were always good, although never stunningly the best, and her charisma left a little to be desired. She was nowhere near the worst on her season but she was just kind of left drifting when it came to the bigger contenders. To win All Stars Season 3 Aja will need to step up her game a lot. She’s competing with some charismatic queens and she needs to stop the limelight being stolen from her. Don’t be complacent, don’t sit back and hope you coast through. Aja needs to be a force to be reckoned with if she stands a chance.

2 – BenDeLaCreme

Already a hit with audiences, BenDeLaCreme was voted Ms Congeniality of her Season 6 run. She held her own against some very tough competition, including Bianca Del Rio who ultimately won the Season. A force to be reckoned with, BenDeLa knows who she is a works it well. She was, and still is, one of my favourites and I remember being taken by her the moment I saw her. If she’s off guard she could end up losing focus and she needs to stay focus in order to win the competition. Don’t get comfortable, don’t relax, it’s not supposed to be easy. She’s fully formed and just needs to do her best to outshine some of the others.

3 – Chi Chi Devayne

Very much up and down during her Season 8 run. One minute I was rooting for her and the next minute I felt she was complaining too much. Not in a horrible way because she’s lovely and I never disliked her, she just needs to concentrate on the competition rather than how she used to be perceived. She was known as the “cheap queen” but in order to win she needs to flesh out her character a bit more. Perhaps give a little more personality and depth to who she is because cheap queen was getting old. There will be tasks that test the depth of their characters and I just hope Chi Chi can handle them.

4 – Kennedy Davenport

Probably most remembered for her Season 7 “chicken look” which was, by most standards, awful. A lapse in judgement? Trouble with the challenge? Whatever it was she cannot afford for it to happen again. Sporting one of the worst runway looks in history is not going to be acceptable in All Stars, regardless of how well you do in a challenge. Much like Aja, Kennedy was outshone in her season (let’s face it, with Violet, Pearl and Ginger Minj in a singoff, she was never going to win) and needs to not fade into the background.

5 – Milk

Do I remember Milk? Yeah. Do I remember anything about Milk? Not really. Other than the “out-of-the-box” styles she had her personality was a little bit too dry for the show. To even stand a chance on All Stars she needs to tone down her “kookiness” because it just crosses that line from innovative into gimmicky. Just remember that whilst you gotta be yourself at all times, you gotta impress people and sometimes she rubs people the wrong way. I was lactose-intolerant during her Season, I just hope I’m not this time around.

6 – Morgan McMichaels

I must have blocked out a lot of Season 2 once Tyra Sanchez won. For me it was a huge disappointment but sadly I think I spent most of it wishing Tyra wouldn’t win and forgetting some of the other queens. Anywho I don’t remember a lot about Morgan McMichaels. She’s an audience favourite and the other queens seem to mention her an awful lot in their interviews so she’s obviously a big personality, but I don’t remember what got her eliminated. All I can say is that she came in eighth in her season, a season won by Tyra Sanchez (possibly one of the dullest queens…evah!) so something needs to be upped or changed. Step it up girl, you came in eighth and you’re up against some VERY tough competition.

7 – Shangela

The come-back queen of Season 2 and 3. How can you dislike her? She’s full of personality and is the total definition of “eager to learn”. Her runway look in Season 2 was awful but she went away, studied up and came back stronger in Season 3. Let us hope that each time she comes back she is stronger and better than before. A fan favourite, willing to learn and upping her game every time, she’s a true contender but does run the risk of fading into the background if she doesn’t bring it every single time.

8 – Thorgy Thor

I didn’t dislike Thorgy Thor…but I didn’t warm to her either. A little bit cold and seeming a little bit conceited didn’t help me like her but I knew there was a fire underneath her that was spurring her on to succeed. Like Milk though she runs the risk of being “too kooky” or “too fringe” because her style doesn’t really comply. We’ve seen the emergence of Sasha Velour recently though so maybe the kooky and innovative style is on track to win again? Head in the game girl. That’s the advice I have to give her. It’s a game, it’s a competition and it’s not RuPaul’s Best Friend Race. If you want to win then you have the ability.

9 – Trixie Mattel

The modern-day Barbie and the HUGE personality is definitely one of the more memorable girls in the competition but sadly it’s not from her Season. She shone more after her season when she teamed up with Katya for their web-show than she ever did during her Season. The only thing I remember her for really is her garish make-up, which she refuses to change, and I have an awkwardness towards her. I like her but she’s a huge hit with the fans which is something I don’t understand. She’s brash and brassy with make-up that’s been applied with a Simpson’s Make-Up Gun. She’ll undoubtedly be one of the more noticeable queens in All Stars but this does mean she can’t afford to slip up. You put yourself out there and you let the world see you, you better not make a big mistake or everyone’s gonna see it. If you wanna be seen, keep your game consistent.

I Wasn’t Raised Like That

I put a lot of blame onto my parents for the way I’ve turned out. I’ll admit the two main shaping factors in my life have been my parents and school (mainly bullying). My parents always tell me that “other people go through this stuff and don’t end up mentally scarred”, as if I’m the problem. But no, I know what they mean, but they do forget that 1 in 5 people will suffer from a common mental health disorder and so it’s a lot more common than they believe.

If everybody went to counselling then I think everybody would find they harbour some sort of emotional attachment to something their parents did or didn’t do when they were growing up. For me I can just think of a lot more examples because I think my mind is tuned into finding reasons for being the crazy way it is. It wants to understand why I struggle to do daily tasks.

Let’s take vlogging for example.

I’ve wanted to do a vlog for probably about ten years now. I’ll be honest and say ever since I watched Shane Dawson videos I wanted to do a vlog (but I can’t mention him in another post or I might give him a complex). The only problem is that I wasn’t raised to be particularly emotional. Not emotional in the “breakdown and cry” sort of way (because that’s my mind’s default setting when things get too confusing), but just in the “getting excited” and showing any sort of emotion sort of way. I don’t know how to handle emotion when I feel it. Parts of my brain shut down, parts of them go into overdrive and I just get all messed up in the head. Even when somebody gives me something I really want, I just reply with a solid “thanks” with a smile. There’s not often a lot of positive emotion there and a lot of people sometimes think I come off as a bit cold. I’m not, I promise, I just don’t know how to show joy.

I wasn’t raised as a particularly dramatic child. Maybe it’s my fault for finding out early that if you cry you usually get your way (life lesson there people) and then continuing it for longer than I should have and not needing any other reason to stand out. Maybe it’s my parents fault for raising me religious and as such we had significantly less Birthday Parties, Christmases, Easters and general festivities than other households. (FYI I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness till I was fifteen.)

But, and this also links back to a previous post (Binary Genders and Too Gay) where I explain a little bit about my upbringing. In that I explain that my parents wanted me to play sports and once I’d explained how I didn’t want to play sports they didn’t know of any other options for me to participate in. Now it’s not entirely their fault. They had four children, three of which loved sports and sport clubs and societies. Then there was me who would rather do acting and be with that sort of a crowd. But that sort of a crowd wasn’t where my parents wanted me to be, or at least they never thought about letting me be a part of it. So I would either have to play football or spend my days playing computer in isolation. As such my ability to socialise has become fucked and part of that is my body language and ability to show emotion. I do honestly feel that had my parents enrolled me into a drama club or something of that ilk then I might have benefited a little better. But they aren’t particularly expressive people either so it’s no surprise that it never crossed their minds.

Perhaps it’s the religious aspect that did it. My parents have always had a large emphasis on being proper and presentable which isn’t a bad thing until it crosses over the emotionally constipated barrier of things and when somebody does something nice you don’t know how to respond.

I’m in no way saying they are bad parents but they are closed-minded and conservative which, for an open-minded liberal like myself, really fucks things up. They’re accepting but they’re not open and willing to change, they also won’t admit that they did anything wrong when raising me, despite what I believe. They’re not bad parents, they just could have done better, or tried harder (which sounds rude but I promise it’s not). As I was growing up I didn’t have a place to fit and even to this day I still don’t feel like I fit in anywhere. I’m still, at twenty-eight, struggling to find somewhere I belong in the world.

 

What Would You Do To Be Famous?

My dad said to me the other day “you wouldn’t want to be famous though, would you?” after I made a joke about what I’d do if I were famous. He outrightly believes that I would not want fame and the hassle that comes with it.

His thinking behind this is pretty sound; I’ve got depression and social/general anxiety. The social anxiety means I struggle in large groups of people and that I have trouble in social situations and so I tend to avoid them. General anxiety also gives me huge fears of simple things like finding a parking space or ordering a drink at a bar. Simple things that send my mind into a vortex and just basically have me saying “I’d rather stay home and do nothing than actually go out and do what I want.” I don’t have a lot of control over it, it’s what my mind does.

However, that’s just sort of the shell that I give off. It’s easier than admitting that perhaps I’m a little fame-obsessed. But here I shall lay out the truth for you. I have a problem with social situations, unless I am the centre of attention. If I am the centre of attention then I love the idea of all eyes being on me and the feeling it gives me. I don’t get it very often, although it is one of the reasons I love Karaoke despite not being a good singer. This is very often misunderstood though and people can very easily convince me that something “isn’t my thing” because it’s so difficult to explain this concept to somebody. My parents don’t believe I’d want to be an actor and so I don’t even entertain the notion, mainly because it’s easier to say “you’re right” when they say “you don’t want to be an actor, do you?” than it is to try and explain the workings going on inside my head.

But please don’t get me wrong. I’m not a fame-whore. I wouldn’t do ANYTHING to get famous. I want to be famous for something I’m good at, or something I enjoy doing, and currently I’m trying to establish myself for my writing (check some of it out over on The Creative Write Blog), but that doesn’t mean I’m going to sell out and compromise all my morals just to be well-known. Do I want more Twitter followers? Yeah. More views on YouTube videos? Yeah. More comments on my Tweets? Yeah. But would I do something debased and debauched just in the hopes of becoming viral and being an overnight sensation? No. This is the difference between fame-hungry (the desire to succeed to fame) and fame-whore (the desire for fame no matter who or what it costs).

But I do want to be famous/well-known. I’ve written before in a blog titled Chasing The Likes that my self-esteem is routed in how other people perceive me and so having a large following wouldn’t affect me negatively. I want to be one of those people who is invited to poetry readings rather than having to trudge through thousands of webpages to find an open mic night that is within distance and at a time when I’m not working. I want to be one of those people that people WANT to talk to.

And something that is grinding my gears recently is people who question the fame and celebrity they receive, even though they go out of their way to gain it. Shane Dawson spends $1000 on a pizza and has over 10 Million subscribers, yet he complains that Hollywood looks down on him and other YouTubers. Yogscast Hannah, who plays games for a living, frequently utters the phrase “What am I doing with my life?” Just a figure of speech but difficult to stomach when, as a viewer, you actually wonder if anybody cares you’re alive and whether life is worth living.

 

 

(I hope nobody takes this personally because it isn’t their fault. It’s my mindset that warps this perception of seemingly innocent statements into something a lot more sinister and evil. Also I’m a huge fan of both Shane Dawson and Yogscast Hannah and would hate to do anything to have them think otherwise).

 

A Message To My Bullies

Congratulations. Today was another day where I woke up in a horrible sweat, mind racing ten-to-the-dozen and too scared to go back to sleep.

I had to write this as soon as I woke up, before I take the tablets that help me get through the day and not end my life. I want to be a nice person and say you’re not responsible for the way I’m feeling but I can’t say that. The state I’m in currently I can’t even pretend that’s a truth. The way I am, regardless of how big the factor, is down to your input.

This message doesn’t go out to everybody who has bullied me. It goes out to a specific two people who ruined my school life and have left me reeling from the effects still twelve years down the line. I’m still undecided as to whether to name names or leave it anonymous.

I woke up today because I was alone. I had that feeling once again of having lost my so-called friends and not having anything or anyone else to turn to. I woke up because in my dream I turned to the school for help and they did nothing, just like in real life. I woke up because it was too uncomfortable for me to continue sleeping through.

You ruined my life. You took a boy that actually enjoyed learning, actually enjoyed life, and twisted so many knives into him that he has to take a handful of pills just to make it through a day. You made a boy second guess everybody that might ever try and be his friend because he finds it almost impossible to trust anybody anymore. You poisoned my relationship with my family because I spent all of my time trying to hide my loneliness and hatred in the world of video games and they became suspicious. But I couldn’t tell them what was going on, how do you tell anybody that two people have made you want to end your life?

You made me scared to get up in the mornings. I was scared whenever the bell rang because I wasn’t sure whether I was getting my friends or my bullies. You made me loathe break-times because it meant I had to socialise and socialising meant being bullied. Since that day I still don’t know how to treat people because you fucked up my mind long ago.

I keep my distance from people, even those I really care about, because you taught me how quickly people can go from being your friend to being your enemy. And you taught me the extent of people and how quickly they resort to violence when they don’t get their own way, or when they’re just bored of the current situation.

You have me sublimating my rage through television shows, through crime and police shows, where the bad-guy always gets what he deserves. It becomes worrying though when the bad-guy does what he does because he’s been bullied and I see nothing wrong with what he’s doing. It becomes scary when the bad-guy isn’t the bad-guy but it’s just me in a world with no medication and less gun-control.

The worst thing about all of this? I have no closure. I can’t close the book on that chapter of my life because, for me, it’s still going on. It didn’t end, we just stopped talking. But Facebook brings all of these things back up again. I have one of you on my Facebook “friends” list because I wanted to forget the way you made me feel. I couldn’t and I couldn’t attend your wedding because of how much you ruined my life. The other one I know still holds some personal feelings because you won’t even add me onto your Facebook, probably too scared of the feelings you have when you know you ruined a life.

I can’t bring myself to end this because I never feel like I’ve said enough about how badly you treated me and the after-effects of the bullying. I feel like I can continue on for several thousand more words, maybe write an entire academic paper on the treatment, but I feel I have to end it here. Like my school-days this won’t be a fulfilling ending because there’s no closure, nothing changes from it, and I just have to live day-by-day trying to get through without being consumed by anger or fear.

Waterstones; How They Went From My Dream to My Nightmare

When I finished University I spent the following three years unemployed. I won’t for one second put all of the blame on other people. I was not in the right headspace to move to London to pursue a journalism or editorial job (given that my degree was in Creative Writing) and so my options were limited. They became even more limited when I moved out of East London and further into the countryside (my parents moved and as I was unemployed I went with them).

My list of jobs that I could do became considerably smaller given the rural area I was now living in. I was overqualified for the factory and cleaning jobs that were the mainstay of the area, in fact with a degree I was considered overqualified for most of the jobs in the local area.

But I want to tell you a story of a time when my ideal job opened up for me. It was working in a bookshop. More specifically it would have been working at Waterstones. For those that don’t know Waterstones, it’s possibly the largest book retailer in the UK (I’m unsure of it’s status outside of the UK). At face value you would see this as just another basic retail position, and in essence it is, unless you actually love books like I do. To be surrounded by books, to have people come in and want to talk about books with you, it’s a dream for me. There’s just something about books and literature that I can’t quite explain to people who don’t get it.

So, back to this job opportunity. The briefing said “must be knowledgeable about books, confident to give recommendations and talk about books” and “have experience in a retail environment”. Tick and tick. I had both of those given my three years studying literature to degree standard and my six months retail work before University. I was a shoe-in for this job and I actually spent an entire day tailoring and crafting my opening letter and CV because I was that excited about working in the store.

I submitted my application and waited. It wasn’t long before I got a reply.

“We’re sorry, your application has not been successful.”

Not my first rejection letter but definitely the first one I couldn’t understand. Did you mean to tell me I hadn’t even made it to an interview? On paper I was the perfect candidate for this job yet I’d been turned down. Thus I pursued the company and followed up with them, phoning them to find out just why I had been turned down without even an interview.

After waiting on the phone I got through to the department that would have deemed me unsuitable for the job. I enquired as to why I was rejected at such an early stage in the process, given my experience, and they couldn’t offer me an explanation. We spoke on the phone for a while and then they told me they would try and find my application to see what exactly happened.

I waited while they searched.

“Oh yes, here it is. You don’t have any retail experience in a book sales environment. That’s why you would have been turned down.”

Hold up. Hold up. So I couldn’t work in a bookstore because I had never worked in a bookstore before? It was a horrible circle that wasn’t all that strange to me, I’d encountered a lot of these “must have specific experience AND specific degree” adverts before (journalism being one of the worst culprits for it). But I had a Literature degree AND retail experience. Surely a three year degree could fill in for the “spent time around books” section. And who is more comfortable and confident talking about books than a Literature student/graduate? Nobody.

Now, I’ve been in Waterstones a lot both before and after this application. The people I have encountered (not naming names or stores) aren’t exactly passionate about books, they aren’t literary enthusiasts and they probably couldn’t tell you the difference between The Divine Comedy and The Odyssey without looking it up on the computer.

So this is what I took away from this experience; two weeks work experience in a second-hand bookstore is more valuable and appreciated than a three year literature degree.

It still makes me sick to my stomach that Waterstones rejected me based on that stupid and juvenile criteria. I want there to be an investigation into every single Waterstones employee and anybody who didn’t have book sales experience before they joined should be let go because they don’t fulfil the criteria for which I was apparently being judged.

It’s a sickening state of the world when companies can give honest and genuine people the runaround when all we are trying to do is find a job we are comfortable in. Literature has always been one of the most important things in my life as far back as I can remember, but because I’ve never worked in a bookshop apparently I can’t work in a bookshop. But add on top of that I’m not experienced enough to go into journalism or editorial positions (because like hell are they giving people a chance these days) and it sort of makes me feel like my entire degree was worthless.

No wonder I find myself disillusioned in this world when companies are more willing to take a sixteen year-old school-leaver with no love of literature who has done two weeks work experience in a bookshop over somebody who has lived and breathed literature for most of their life and studied it to a degree standard.

13 Reasons Why

“You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything affects everything.” – 13 Reasons Why.

 

The last day and a half have been a roller-coaster of emotions for me because I felt it necessary to binge-watch the entire first season of 13 Reasons Why. This show has hit me more emotionally than a lot of other shows because of the subject matter regarding suicide, bullying, friendship and helplessness.

I had avoided watching this show for fear that reports of it glamorising suicide may have been true. But that’s not what I got from this show. Unfortunately the show does seem to perceive suicide as a justice-bringer and enforce the idea that everybody will miss you and rethink what they did when you die (as long as you leave them tapes explaining what they did and threaten them with police action) and it also seems to treat suicide in a similar way to playing a game (especially with the thirteen tapes and the map around town). But it doesn’t glamorise the actual mindset or frame of mind that a person has to be in to commit suicide.

There’s a heavy bullying tone going on throughout 13 Reasons Why, what with the bullying being the main speculation of why Hannah Baker has killed herself. Her parents have started a lawsuit claiming neglect on the part of the school and it’s actually quite interesting to see what the school does and doesn’t do in regards to emotional traumas.

One of the first things I really want to talk about is rumours. Hannah Baker’s life goes downhill very quickly because of one picture and a rumour. Now with rumours we tend to only place blame on those that started it, believing that if they hadn’t started it then it wouldn’t have happened. It’s true, it wouldn’t, but the blame is on everybody who shares the rumour, believes it to be true or lets it influence their opinion of a person without once consulting the person who is the subject of the rumour. I may be slightly biased with this but the first few episodes were very tough viewing for me because it took me back to a similar place where my own mental health was completely messed around by a group of people and some malicious rumours/gossip. Some viewers may just say that it’s not enough to want to kill yourself but as somebody who has been in that position, it’s a lot worse than you can possibly imagine. It’s not something that can just be forgotten about easily and you can’t just “move on” when a rumour has completely changed people’s perceptions of you.

We also have to talk about objectification. There’s a huge, huge amount of objectification in this series and it’s very well tackled actually. Hannah Baker feels objectified when she finds herself on a list of “best and worst” physical assets of girls in the school. Despite the fact that she’s on the “best” section of the list, it’s not something we can just dismiss as acceptable. Many people in the show pretend that it’s a compliment but it’s objectification and it’s horrific to think that people are treated like that. We’re all guilty of objectification, I’m not going to pretend we don’t all look at somebody and think “they’re hot”, but it’s when they stop being a person and just become an object that things get into a risky area. To treat somebody like they should be grateful to have men leering at them is a ridiculous idea and a horrible reflection of a sexist bygone era. People are people, regardless of what you think of them, and their feelings should always be taken into consideration. My advice is that if you are going to objectify people (because I believe it’s fantasy to pretend it won’t ever happen) is to do it in your head. Don’t single people down to being anything less than human, don’t ever pretend a person is just made up of one single asset or should be grateful for your attention. That’s not how people work.

One of the more complex issues is the way the school handles everything. Children, in particular teenagers, often pass off like they are fine and dandy with everything going on in the world. When somebody is killed via a drink driving incident then the school puts up posters to encourage people not to drink and drive. Suicide is seen to be prevented via more posters going up and urging people they are important. Whilst this isn’t a bad thing, as such, there is definitely more that needs to be done. One good thing I saw in this series and I know they don’t have it at many schools in the UK is the idea of a communications class. Getting people to deal with how they communicate and interact is an integral part of life as a teenager and schools don’t seem to put a focus on that. They’ll hand out punishments but they won’t actually try and educate the children in the ways of acceptable behaviour. Knowing people commit suicide, teaching people about bullying and suicide statistics would be a hundred percent more beneficial than just throwing down a detention whenever you see a fight.

I did notice, from my own experience of counselling, that the show promotes a very disjointed view of counselling. School counselling currently is awful in most schools. We had one and she did nothing. Like, honestly, absolutely nothing. 13 Reasons Why seems to suggest a need for counselling but then doesn’t acknowledge that the one attending needs to want help. I personally didn’t know whether I blamed the counsellor for Hannah Baker’s death or not. Towards the end of the series she seems beyond help, like she has already made up her mind, and she wants other people to sort her problems rather than work with her to sort them. I know the feelings and I don’t blame her, but to blame the counsellor for not following her after a counselling session is a grey area in my books. Granted some of the things he said in the session were questionably unhelpful but it’s his job to offer help and whether she takes it or not isn’t his fault. It made me realise the necessity for mandatory counselling or counselling-like classes at school. People sometimes need help and are too afraid to seek it out, thinking they are beyond help, but mandatory counselling sessions would help to ensure people don’t get to this point and that they receive the help they do need. It would make sure that kids like Hannah Baker don’t get pushed and pushed right to the edge before they finally make that decision.

The show gave me something that I wished would work in the real world. An anonymous compliment bag. Each student had one and you could write a compliment to a person, pop it into their bag and you wouldn’t have to face the awkwardness of saying it to their face. It was a refreshing idea to help those who might be too afraid to show their emotions. Granted this system gets abused and it has it’s flaws but it’s just an improvement on the way people currently interact. I, like Hannah Baker, need compliments to make me feel better – no matter how anonymous. Even if you think the compliments are stupid or just rubbish little things, they are important to some people and they make some people feel better. It’s a good idea that I wish could be in place in a lot more schools around the world. It promotes a healthy positivity that is lacking in the world.

It is worth emphasising that suicide does not bring justice. If you are feeling suicidal and want people to listen then you need to find somebody to talk to. Somebody will listen, I promise. Maybe not the ones you want to listen, but somebody will. Professionals will. Suicide is not a way to get revenge on those that hurt you. Unfortunately that’s the message that some people have taken away from 13 Reasons Why, which is definitely not the message it was trying to convey.

The show 13 Reasons Why can be very triggering to somebody with a preexisting mental health issue and so I recommend it only if you feel strong and comfortable enough in your mental state. If you do suffer from suicidal thoughts then it’s very important that you talk to somebody open and honestly about your thoughts.

“It has to get better. The way we treat each other and look out for each other. It has to get better somehow.” – 13 Reasons Why.